Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès visited two hospitals on Saturday, one in Ath and the other in Hasselt.
Unlike the visit made a week ago to the Saint-Pierre hospital in Brussels, his trips to the provinces were less rowdy. Ms. Wilmès was at Epicura Hospital in Ath in the early afternoon. “The objective of this visit was to hear the realities on the ground of hospital staff as well as the many difficulties experienced since the beginning of this crisis” of the coronavirus, said the municipal authorities in a press release.
“I am delighted to hear the Prime Minister talk about the underfunding of hospitals,” said Bruno Lefebvre, mayor of Ath. “It appears that this meeting made the Prime Minister aware of the shortcomings and needs of these front line staff and confirmed the existing gaps in health care.”
Shortly after 4:00 p.m., the Jessa hospital in Hasselt welcomed the government official. In particular, she traveled the same route as a patient potentially contaminated with Covid-19. She went through the intensive therapy unit where 78 patients in serious condition have been admitted since the start of the crisis. “She spoke at length with front-line doctors and nurses and listened to them recount their experiences of the past two months,” said a spokesperson for the Limburg establishment.
The hospital received its first Covid patients on March 11 and received a total of 476.
Ms. Wilmès also stopped in a non-Covid unit to show her support for healthcare providers who continued to provide urgent help to other patients. Before her visit, which ended around 6:00 p.m., she was also able to talk to the unions.
A week ago, a hundred staff members from Saint-Pierre hospital had voluntarily turned their backs on Ms. Wilmès and her delegation. The sector has very badly received the royal decrees providing for a requisition of personnel if necessary. The nurses felt that they had made enough effort and that they had been available enough throughout the health crisis.
Healthcare workers have also been calling for a revaluation of the profession for several months.